The four companies delivering care on Amazon Clinic say joining the direct-to-consumer telehealth marketplace hasn’t forced them to rewrite their business plans.
Amazon Clinic, the tech giant’s direct-to-consumer telehealth marketplace, offers both asynchronous and synchronous care for non-urgent medical conditions such as urinary tract infections and seasonal allergies through third-party companies. Amazon launched the offering in November 2022.
The tech giant has partnered with four companies in offering this consumer-centric care: telehealth company SteadyMD; virtual care platform Wheel; women’s health-focused virtual provider Hello Alpha; and text-based provider Curai Health.
Executives at these companies say the opportunity to join Amazon Clinic has helped bring in new consumers and hasn’t required a change in how they operate.
“The modality fits very well with what we do. Meaning, our technology platform, how we treat patients [and] how our providers are trained,” said Hello Alpha co-founder and CEO Gloria Lau. “For us, it’s not that difficult to handle the extra additional volume from Amazon Clinic.”
Guy Friedman, co-founder and CEO and SteadyMD, said joining the marketplace was a unique opportunity for his company.
“It fit into what our skillset was and the ways our technology and assets work,” Friedman said. “Anytime you join a marketplace, you have to be ready and trust your team to compete in that marketplace and win on those dynamics without compromising your margin [and] definitely don’t compromise your care quality.”
Friedman admitted when the company joined the marketplace that there were initial concerns some patients would be unable to distinguish SteadyMD’s offering from other companies on the marketplace. But he said the providers are evolving and differentiating themselves over time.
Amazon declined to provide financial details on the agreement with the four companies. The companies either declined or deferred questions back to Amazon.
For companies that do not offer care directly to consumers, Amazon Clinic hasn’t been much of a challenge. Neither Wheel nor SteadyMD offer direct-to-consumer patient care outside of Amazon Clinic. Both companies primarily serve enterprise customers such as health systems or employers.
But joining Amazon’s consumer-centric business hasn’t required adjustments in strategy and marketing spend, the companies’ executives said. Michelle Davey, CEO of Wheel, said she joined Amazon Clinic because the fundamentals aren’t too dissimilar to how her business normally operates.
“We’ve been delivering both asynchronous and synchronous care across all 50 states, 24/7, 365 for millions of patients every year,” Davey said. “So this for us was kind of just continued growth on top of that, and you know, we do scale up as we bring on new enterprises as volumes grow those types of things, but we have those bedrock of foundations already in place.”
But this might not be true for everyone. Neal Batra, a principal and future of health leader at Deloitte Consulting, said going from an enterprise to a direct-to-consumer business is a radical shift. The marketplace and consumerization of healthcare, especially through a company like Amazon, may create new ways for patients to interact with doctors, he said.
“What you end up creating is a marketplace feedback loop,” Batra said. “When the scale of large numbers lets you then assign trust to players, that’s how you’re going to parse out who wins and loses when it is a set of logos that you may not be familiar with.”
Hello Alpha and Curai Health serve both direct-to-consumer and enterprise customers. Neal Khosla, CEO and founder of Curai Health, said Amazon’s platform offered a potential influx of customers for their direct-to-consumer businesses.
“We see this as a really great channel for acquiring consumers,” Khosla said. “It’s a massive, massive channel that can bring these services at scale to hundreds of millions of Americans, and our job is to work with Amazon to rise up and meet them.”
But while the company is excited about the opportunity, Khosla also said they haven’t had to scale operations to match demand. Other Amazon Clinic companies similarly said that they have easily absorbed the influx of patients coming from Amazon Clinic.
Neither Amazon nor any of the companies would share statistics on how many patients they’ve treated.
Alexander Lennox-Miller, lead analyst for healthcare information technology at research firm CB Insights, is bullish on the potential impact of direct-to-consumer telehealth in. Lennox-Miller said patients tend to value access to care, ease of access and cost.
“This is just another one of those areas where the reluctance of traditional health [systems] to adopt tech solutions is kind of biting them now,” Lennox-Miller said. “They’re paying the price for it.”